Lawmakers in Congress have experienced a surge of threats and confrontations in recent years, coinciding with a rise in violent political speech.
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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Queens on Election Day.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she has feared for her life since becoming an elected official.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat from New York, said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace, part of which aired on Saturday, that she has felt endangered “since the moment that I won my primary election in 2018, and it became especially intensified when I was first brought into Congress.”
“I started to feel, even in 2019, that it was possible that I may not see the end of the year,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said, adding that fear has influenced her political decision-making, driving her to accomplish more in a shorter period of time “because I don’t want to take the time I have for granted.”
During the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who often draws intense, sometimes vitriolic, criticism from those on the right, has said she feared for her life. In a livestream on Instagram last year, she recalled hiding in a bathroom and thinking she was going to die as unknown people entered her office and shouted, “Where is she?” (They were Capitol Police officers who had not clearly identified themselves.)
Lawmakers in Congress have experienced a surge of threats and confrontations in recent years, coinciding with a rise in violent political speech. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was viciously assaulted last month by a man who police said intended to kidnap Ms. Pelosi, interrogate her, and break her “kneecaps.”
The attack on Mr. Pelosi made public a yearslong debate on Capitol Hill about how lawmakers and their families are protected. After the attack, the chief of the Capitol Police called for increased funding to provide additional layers of security, citing “today’s political climate.”